Netscape file backup: not just for email

Written and published May 5, 1999

As promised last week, here's the story on storing Netscape mail in a location that's convenient for backup. As I worked on this, I realized that if you use Netscape at all -- even if not for email -- you'll find this column helpful. (I did.)

Neil Laubenthal put it well when he wrote:

"Netscape mail lives in a folder named Mail inside the Preferences folder. The path is either /System Folder/Preferences/Netscape Users/UserID/Mail or /System Folder/Preferences/Netscape/UserID/Mail, depending on which version is being used. [Ed note: UserID is the name you gave yourself as the user when you set up your Netscape.] You can move the mail elsewhere . . . just leave the appropriately named alias behind in the system folder."

Since the question was about email, Neil specifically addressed email. Notice he lists the path all the way up through your user folder, to your mail and shows us to move and alias the mail file. That was the goal of our thought thread: storing our email in our own Personal Files folder so we could back it up when we back up our files, without taking the extra time and disk space to back up our applications and system folders.

If all you wish to back up is your email, as I discussed, you can alias and move only your email file as described above. But let's expand on that. Instead, alias your entire user folder. That way, you can store your entire Netscape user information in your own Personal Files Folder, making it easy to back up your browser preferences and your bookmarks, as well as your email.

Here's how you do it:

  1. If Netscape is running, quit.

  2. Open your System folder, then the Preferences folder, and finally the Netscape Users folder.

  3. Select your specific user folder. It most likely has your name on it, per the information you entered when you set up Netscape.

  4. Use the File->Make alias command to make an alias of the entire user folder.

  5. Move the original user folder into your Personal Files folder, which should be directly inside your hard drive.

  6. Remove the space and the word alias from the end of the alias. (It requires the name to match exactly or you'll be asked to reselect your file.)

That's it. Close all the open folders and launch Netscape as normal.

Don Grossman pointed out that

"You can put the email folder from Netscape anywhere you want. If you already have email in your folder you can drag it out of Netscape's Preferences folder to any location you wish, desktop, daily backup folder, removable etc." This means you can move your Netscape Users folder to a zip disk, or perhaps somewhere else on a network, and use it as normal.

Here's how you do it:

  1. If Netscape is running, quit.

  2. Open your System folder, then the Preferences folder, and finally the Netscape Users folder.

  3. Select your specific user folder and move it to the new location. Since this is another volume you are actually copying the folder, not moving it.

  4. Return to the Netscape's Preferences folder and delete the now copied folder.

  5. Now you must place an alias of the newly copied user folder into the Netscape's Preferences folder. The easiest way is to press the Option and Command (Apple) keys as you click on the now-moved user folder and drag to the Netscape Users folder in the Netscape's Preferences folder. With this alias method there is no "alias" extension to delete. The alias automatically has the same name as the original.

That's it. Close all the open folders and launch Netscape as normal.

Another reader points out that you can use Netscape's Profile Manager to allow you to have multiple user profiles and open each. (He hasn't tried using aliases.) That's beyond the scope of our project at this time and I haven't verified it. However, here's his letter in case you want to see what he says:

"Netscape 4.0.5 and Communicator versions ship w/. Launch profile manager. It will launch Communicator plus a window that lets you create as many profiles as you want. After you create a profile Program Manager appears to quit and Communicator is left running w/ the profile you just created. There is no difference between launching Communicator and Profile Manager if you have multiple profiles *except* that Profile manager adds a 'new' button to the dialog box that appears. So double click on either, and you get Communicator to launch and a profile selection dialog box appears. (I always click on Profile Manager because I get the 'new' button.) So, after you click on the new button a series of question finally gets you to 'pick a default folder for all this stuff' (or something.) The default is System Folder:Preferences:Netscape or something. I always point it to my Data partition 'Data:Netscape:Profiles:' I have a removable hard drive I take to work. Pop it in there and can have my email go right in to the correct profile. To set it up at the second (work) location you have to: Create a new profile. Quit Communicator. Throw the new profile away. Launch Communicator. It complains it can't find the old profile, and asks if you want to look for it. Then you just link it with the profile folder you brought from home, with the standard file dialog. The profile contains preferences for Communicator, Messenger; contains email files, and the Cache folder."

If the methods above don't work it might be because you are using an older version of Netscape. Ken McCroan wrote that he uses Netscape 3.02 and says "I have tried several times to upgrade my Netscape and have the latest 128 bit version of Communicator. Transferring my email is problematical. The new mail utility insists on ignoring the old Inbox and creating a whole new folder with new Inbox. It refuses to let me navigate to the old file in order to open it. Consequently, I still use Netscape 3.02."

If you are using Netscape at all, for the sake of back up I suggest moving your Netscape files into a folder you back up on a regular basis. (This is the folder equal to the folder I recommended in previous columns and call the Personal Files folder.)

Internet Explorer users. . .

Are you're using Internet Explorer and wondering about doing the same to back up its files? This isn't as critical as IE is a browser only and isn't used for email. (Microsoft chose to separate the functions and has Outlook Express for email.) However, a crash would lose your Favorites and your History. You can back those files up easily by moving them to your Personal Files folder.

To do so:

  1. Open your System folder, then Preferences, then the Explorer folder.

  2. Move the files called Favorites.html and History.html to your Personal Files folder.

  3. Make an alias of each of those files and place them in the Explorer folder where you removed the originals.

Next Week

Personally, although I do bookmark from time to time, I rely more heavily on Apple's Internet Location Files since adopting OS 8.5. Perhaps next week I'll talk about them as bookmarks are very worth organizing and backing up.

When you write with your questions let me know if you want your name used. I won't use addresses or URLs unless I have specific permission to do so.

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